Swedish police to trial use of taser guns

Police in Sweden are set to trial the use of electroshock weapons in a move that has been welcomed by the country’s union for law enforcement.

Swedish police to trial use of taser guns
A file photo of a Swedish police officer. Photo: Johan Nilsson/TT

“The weapons will aid certain situations, but at the same time I don’t think the test process needs to be as far-reaching as it will be,” police union spokesperson Lena Nitz told news agency TT.

The union has pushed for the use of the weapons after a number of fatal police shootings in recent years. Only last Saturday a man was shot multiple times by officers in central Stockholm after he attacked them with a knife. He was subsequently taken to hospital and remains critically injured. 

The proposal to trial arming officers with taser guns came from within the police force, and has now been approved by its ethics council.

National police chief Dan Eliasson was quoted by TT as arguing that police research shows injuries and death could be avoided if the officers are armed with some form of electroshock weapon, citing examples where knife-wielding individuals have continued to attack an officer despite being shot with a regular gun.

The authority's internal research shows that electroshock weapons are more effective at incapacitating suspects in those situations.

Colloquially known as tasers, electroshock weapons fire two electrodes capable of delivering an electrical current into the human body. Working best at short distances, the current makes muscles contract and prevents further movement from the individual it is transferred into.

If the trials go well the plan is for at least one officer in every police patrol in Sweden to be armed with a taser, but tests are expected to take some time, with procuring equipment and training on the use of the weapons part of the process.

Trials in some parts of the country should begin in 2018, and are expected to cost 8.5 million kronor ($1.19 million). A hypothetical nation-wide roll-out of the weapons would cost an estimated 26 million kronor.